South Africa news January 23, 2014

CSA offers Test to Zimbabwe


CSA has proposed a Test between South Africa and Zimbabwe to be played before they host Australia for a Test and Twenty20 series that begins on February 12, ESPNcricinfo has learned.

Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) is unlikely to be able to commit to the fixture because of their impasse with their players: they are on strike over non-payment and their domestic competitions have also been put on hold.

With no end in sight to the boycott, one player, who asked not to be named, said he thought "the chances of the match happening are very slim because we have not been playing any cricket at all".

A second source from Zimbabwe said even though some players "welcomed the opportunity", others are wary of visiting South Africa given the team's long break from competitive cricket.

Zimbabwe's last outing was almost four months ago, against Pakistan in September. Since then, a tour by Sri Lanka was cancelled for financial reasons and although the domestic four and one-day competitions kicked off, they were stalled after one round of the former and three matches of the latter.

In case Zimbabwe are unable to make the trip, CSA are also considering an alternative. Members of South Africa's Test squad would play against a Zimbabwe A side in Johannesburg in early February. That would most likely coincide with the Australians' tour match in Potchefstroom against a South African Invitation XI. The Invitation team will probably not consist of South Africa's 'next best' as was the case on 2011, but promising players in the set up.

CSA insisted that the offer has been made for cricketing reasons and is not an attempt to build support in the ICC crisis over the future make-up of international cricket.

Zimbabwe's players went on strike in mid-December over non-payment. They also refused to restart the fixtures in January, insisting they will stick to the "no pay, no cricket" policy. Their stance led to the limited-overs incoming tour of Afghanistan, which was scheduled for January, also being cancelled.

Salaries are outstanding as of November last year and ZC's financial situation has meant they cannot provide any guarantee as to when they will be able to pay their players. It is understood they are currently in talks with a local corporate to sign sponsorship and if they manage to secure the deal, domestic cricket could resume by next week. That would be the only practice Zimbabwe get ahead of the World Twenty20, unless they take up South Africa's offer to play a Test, which could be staged at the Wanderers.

There is a possibility that this sudden move by CSA is to gain ZC's support when the draft proposal for a revamp of the ICC's administrative structure comes to vote at the Executive Board's quarterly meeting in Dubai on January 28 and 29. CSA's position on the draft, which will concentrate power with the BCCI, ECB and CA, is that the idea was "fundamentally flawed" and "in breach of the ICC constitution."

CSA rejected suggestions of using the match to gain Zimbabwe's backing, saying tat as they have not played Tests since the Boxing Day fixture against India, and with the first-class competition on hold because of the domestic T20 tournament, team management wanted an additional fixture ahead of the Australia series.

"The request to play Zimbabwe is purely for cricket reasons," a CSA official said. "Our team are notoriously slow starters and the request was made long before the ICC revamp proposal came."

ZC have made no comment on the proposal but are understood to traditionally vote in favour of the BCCI. One insider questioned whether the match would be enough to sway Zimbabwe to endorse South Africa's position. "I can't see how Zimbabwe would benefit from a match against South Africa. They won't earn any money from coming here. Maybe if CSA had suggested going to play in Zimbabwe and ZC they could sell television rights, they may be interested."

South Africa are also due to tour Zimbabwe in July but the possibility of that series going ahead is in doubt, because of ZC's financial situation.

This story was updated with additional information at 1800 GMT on January 23

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • greig on January 26, 2014, 13:43 GMT

    Hahaa @ Greatest_Game. Such a great point you make - Robbie P is a better batsman than JP, and JP is a better spinner!! So true and sums up the total madness in selection if R.Petersen is picked to lob more pies and appreciative batsmen.

    The SA "A" match will be very useful in more ways that one. Firstly it gets our current Test guys some much needed practice but MOST importantly it will hopefully be used as Justification for giving some new Test caps to those to who stand up and prove themselves. Van Zyl, Harmer, De Kock, Hendricks, etc.

    We need to encourage the groundsmen in SA to make the tracks nice and lively. Since we dont have a spinner anyway, our plan should be to blow them out the water with pure pace attack - all fast pace seamers.

  • Corne on January 25, 2014, 7:00 GMT

    @ZCF Outcast.

    Mate you cannot be more wrong if you suggest we should jump when the BCCI says we must jump, nor that we shouldn't have appointed Lorgat.

    Yes sport in SA is poorly marketed and not enough fuss is made about sport in SA, even rygby is really not getting close enough attention in the media.

    SA sport has vast potential to grow, and if these sporting bodies in conjunction with government find synergy we will be not only more competitive, but also financially so much better off.

    By resgning yourself to the fact that others must rule your sporting code will mean you are signing your fate over to them, that should never ever be allowed.

  • ZCF on January 25, 2014, 5:57 GMT

    @Testcricketistop, yes and a little bit no. Shouldn't have appointed Lorgat, can vote with the BCCI, but not budge on tour itinerary when they're hosting. The cricket ecosystem in SA is huge. Not modest 80s&90s anymore so without the BCCI, cricket here would die quicker than it would in ZIM with a headstart. After football&rugby, there's nothing left for cricket. The odd rugby club game, let alone Currie Cup match, gets more fans than franchise cricket&even the RAM Slam T20. It doesn't help that our brand of cricket(just like the Springboks) is so dull&boring. A lot of the players would quickly scatter to ENG,AUS&NZ, but then again, those 3 don't have room for any more in their ranks. ZIM's Travis Friend had to be a low cost airline pilot. That'll be Harmer soon. It's not like the sport is getting attention from the majority of citizens in their respective countries. Well off parents won't invest in or sponsor a sport their kids don't want to play even if they love the game themselves.

  • David on January 24, 2014, 23:22 GMT

    @ Cpt.Meanster. After the IPL fizzles out when it becomes Ranji lite, and Indian fans are sick to death of the same old boring rubbish between Ind, Eng & Aus, they will ALL be watching SA, NZ, Pak, SL and a supported & much improved Bang, Zim, Ire, Afg etc simply because it will be much more exciting - it will be real cricket. Then, ALL that Indian money will stay OUT of India, and the World Cup income - the real world cup not including the 3 teams who only play each other - will also go everywhere BUT India. The BCCI, ECB and CA will be irrelevant, but mostly the BCCI as the Ashes will go on as the Poms & Aussies do have that.

    After a while Aus & Eng will be readmitted as 'associates' and the whole world can happy play cricket, funded by India with no BCCI interference. What a pleasure.

    How do you like that alternative future, because it is a VERY real possibility.

  • David on January 24, 2014, 23:13 GMT

    SA vs SA 'A" makes GREAT sense. Let Hendricks and de Kock show that they should be playing against Aus. No question they are worth more than Robbie P and the "I don't score test runs" JP.

    SA should play Steyn, Morkel, Philander, Hendricks and Abbot against Aus. Why play a barely useful spinner - just prepare a seamer's track and play 5 roaring pacers - like the Windies of old. Aus' fragile batting would last for about 47 runs. Warner would have 'scared eyes.' SA have few fears of Aus bowling. Pattinson has lost it completely. Johnson is off the boil again, and will play like his last SA tour when he averaged 85. He has has his good series for the next few years. Haris & Siddle are containable, can't bowl dangerously all day, and Lyon will be milked. Just beat Aus to death with pace. They can dish it, but can't take it. Broad had them hopping. Broad!

    They should drop JP & Robbie P. Robbie is the better batsman & JP the better spinner, & neither are worth it on their recent record

  • Dummy4 on January 24, 2014, 16:29 GMT

    SA should play SA A. It would be a cracker of a match and many people would watch. Would be good preparation for AUS.

    At Wanderers...

    Smith, Peterson, Hash, Faf, AB, Elgar, JP, Robbie P, Philander, D Steyn, Morne M


    Roussow, De Kock, Van Zyl, Bavuma, JL Ontong (capt), Thami Tsolikele (wk), Parnell, Harmer, Abbott, De Lange, Hendricks

  • philip on January 24, 2014, 13:57 GMT

    CSA should be proactive and arrange a good number of tests for SA against a variety of opponents. The FTP is dead in the water.

  • andrew on January 24, 2014, 13:38 GMT

    Come on CSA get a tri series together zim,Afghanistan and Sa

  • Shoaib on January 24, 2014, 13:37 GMT

    It will be a real pity for African Cricket if Zimbabwean Cricket is extinct especially considering these radical proposals that could be coming soon. Remember Kenya? Cricket is not a world sport anymore.

  • Angelo on January 24, 2014, 13:02 GMT

    History will judge those who have abused positions of great influence, the members of the Indian, Australian and English cricket boards, harshly.

    The only people rejoicing at any hardship South Africa is facing are short-sighted nationalists who have been invited to the head table, not lovers of cricket.

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